Recently, Warner announced its new DVD-on-demand program. Dubbed "Warner Archive," it's a Web site that allows the company to market more obscure titles from its back catalog. Consumers choose the specific titles they want, and Warner manufactures them as needed and mails them directly to the consumer in under a week.
At least two of the debut movies caught my eye, so I decided to give it a try. My test movies were "Countdown" and "The D.I." The former is a 1968 movie with James Caan as an astronaut scrambling to beat a Soviet space mission to the moon. In addition to a pre-"Godfather" pairing of Caan and costar Robert Duvall, it's of interest to me as an early Robert Altman film (years before his better known 70s hits "M.A.S.H." and "Nashville"). "The D.I.," meanwhile, is a 1957 flick directed by and starring Jack Webb as a tough-as-nails Marine drill instructor. This one is a gift for my father, who's been searching for this old favorite for years.
Both movies arrived in a padded envelope less then a week after my order. They're packaged in standard DVD keepcases, and I appreciated the lack of cellophane and other redundant packing materials. The front and back covers are obviously based on a template, but they are customized with photos, blurbs, cast lists--it certainly has a budget feel, but it's a step-up from some of the truly no-frills custom DVDs I've ordered in the past.
The disc itself also has a professional looking label. According to The Digital Bits, "the discs will be burned rather than pressed which raises obvious concerns over longevity, although a proprietary burn technology is being used that Warners feels is much more reliable than what one can do at home on one's own computer." Indeed, the case includes the warning "This disc is expected to play back in DVD video 'play only' devices, and may not play back in other DVD devices, including recorders and PC drives." That said, we had no trouble playing it in several Blu-ray players, Windows PC DVD drives, or Xbox 360s. Only some PS3 models balked: the original 60GB PlayStation 3 didn't recognize the disc, but newer 40GB and 80GB models did. … Read more